Breast cancer screenings urged after COVID pandemic delays

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – As healthcare facilities across Kentucky resume scheduling routine appointments and screenings, WellCare wants to remind communities of the importance of taking care of their

health. In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, WellCare encourages people to begin scheduling their annual mammograms for early detection of breast cancer and risk factors.

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hospitals across Kentucky have postponed routine mammogram appointments and other non-essential healthcare services for precautionary reasons.

Combined with people questioning the safety of healthcare facilities, the number of mammograms performed has dropped drastically. According to research comparing 2019 data, breast cancer screenings across the country have dropped 29% during the pandemic.

“National Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as an extra reminder to those in need of a mammogram to contact their physician for support,” said Bill Jones, Plan President and CEO of WellCare of Kentucky. “Even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, early detection and treatment is essential in the fight against breast cancer, and we want to encourage everyone to get the care they need.”

Women older than 40 should consider beginning annual breast cancer screenings with mammograms, and potentially earlier if they have a family of history of breast cancer2. While in-person visits are the only way to receive a mammogram, hospitals and health clinics across Kentucky have been regularly updating safety procedures to help avoid coronavirus transmission.

Throughout the pandemic, healthcare workers have continued to use personal protective equipment to safeguard themselves and patients, so patients can feel comfortable in scheduling necessary in-person appointments. Additionally, WellCare members can consult with their doctor using telehealth services to determine the risk and comfort with scheduling an in-person mammogram.

To help ease the uncertainty of clinic visits, WellCare encourages people to take steps that can further help protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a few safety steps that can help the entire family prepare for in-person visits:

  • Before scheduling a doctor appointment, call the clinic or check its website to find out what is being done to keep people safe during the pandemic.
  • Follow standard precautions during the doctor visit: wear a face mask, wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer, and cover mouth while coughing or use a tissue when sneezing.
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others (this may be indicated by markings on the floor).
  • Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator surfaces, and touchpads. Be mindful of the surfaces young children touch or use.
  • Use touchless payment options such as a mobile payment system. If that is not an option, use credit cards, if possible.

WellCare can help members connect with their primary care physician, either through telehealth services or in-person visits. Members can call their WellCare representative at 877.389.9457 (Medicaid) or 833.444.9088 (Medicare). For information visit www.wellcare.com/Kentucky.